Human Nutrition
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Division of Human Nutrition

Community Interaction - Community Nutrition


The community nutrition dietitians/lecturers are involved in community interaction on a continuous basis, and in combination with the service-learning component of the community nutrition training, render a valuable service to the communities involved.

Service Delivery

The dietitians/lecturers at Human Nutrition run a dietetic consulting service at the Primary Health Care facilities, which provide a platform for BSc Dietetics students to receive practical training in community nutrition and health care. Students are responsible for patient care as well as various health promotion activities within these communities.  This service is provided on a continuous basis by the community nutrition lecturers/dietitians to ensure that a sustainable service is rendered to the communities collaborating with the service-learning activities.

The Community Nutrition Firm at Human Nutrition has been an active role player in the practical implementation and monitoring of the programmes, strategies and initiatives of the National INP at the facilities and communities used as training platforms for the B Sc Dietetics students.

In 1993, a nutrition clinic was established at the Bishop Lavis Community Health Centre. This service was established after consultation and negotiations with the Department of Health, Provincial Administration of the Western Cape and the responsible Local Authority. The Department supports the community with preventive, rehabilitative and curative care programs.


Service Learning

Under appropriate supervision, students are exposed to and involved in the delivery of community-based nutritional services to an increasing extent from their second year of study. This includes health promotion and nutrition education activities and individual consultations with patients. Students are also involved in the evaluation of nutrition intervention strategies, community profile assessment and intervention program planning.

The six weeks of training of the fourth year students at the Community Health Centre and Primary Health Care Clinic provide the student with learning opportunities to develop their skills and competencies in terms of nutritional status assessment, nutrition planning, care and support (including implementation of the Nutrition Therapeutic Program - NTP of the INP) at community level by means of consultations, group activities (talks, demonstrations and discussions) and the compilation of a community profile.

Individual consultations are provided for patients at the well-baby, malnutrition, antenatal and TB clinics regarding the following main topics:

  • Protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding: Mothers of newborn babies are provided with breastfeeding advice at the Bishop Lavis MOU
  • Growth monitoring
  • ORT
  • Introduction of solid foods in the baby's diet
  • Micronutrient malnutrition control
  • The food based dietary guidelines and balanced meals
  • Therapeutic dietary advice: disease-specific nutrition support, treatment and counseling is provided to patients referred to the nutrition clinics by other health personnel, usually regarding Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension, Obesity and Lipid disorders
  • Contribution to the improvement of household food security: Such activities include advocacy, technical support and nutritional advice to other sectors dealing with household food security

Group activities include nutrition education and promotion to groups of patients waiting at the clinics or to groups in the community such as weight loss clubs, women's groups, the elderly, schools and crèches.

Each student has the opportunity to do home visits with the district nurse and work with the personnel at a school in the community where they engage in Health Promoting Schools activities. Students also do training at various crèches and implement health promotion activities with toddlers.

Additionally, students take part in the activities of various interest groups in the community i.e. the exercise and the elderly groups in Bishop Lavis. Furthermore, our students work in conjunction with the health calendar and engage in various programs in the community during TB, Anti tobacco, Breastfeeding, Nutrition and Heart weeks.

During the six-week elective visit to the Ukwanda Centre for Rural Health, students are involved in various activities with the personnel of the regional Provincial Government of the Western Cape (PAWC) Integrated Nutrition Program (INP) as well as other interdisciplinary activities. Activities include overview of the INP at regional and district level, nutrition programme evaluations, health promotion at schools, media promotion of the South African Food Based Dietary Guidelines, talks at old age homes and other institutions, district hospital food service and Mother Baby Friendly initiative evaluations, regional hospital ward rounds and group talks at clinics. Exposure to a private practicing dietitian (PPD) is also included during this visit.